24 March 2015
Is Liberty University a misnomer?
The libertarian Reason magazine website notes an irony to Senator Cruz's announcement of his candidacy at Jerry Falwell's Liberty University. While some observers might find any equation of Falwell and liberty ironic at best, Reason's Robby Soave notes that Cruz spoke before a captive audience yesterday. He appeared during a convocation for which attendance is mandatory on pain of a fine and reprimand. This irked students who support other candidates, some of whom showed up wearing Rand Paul t-shirts. Meanwhile, in a further irony, Liberty University defends the scheduling on rather liberal grounds, arguing that convocations often are used to expose students to diverse points of view they might otherwise avoid, including heterodox religious views by Liberty's usual standard. This misses the point of the protests made by Liberty students and picked up by Reason. Cruz's announcement was a photo op above all. Appearing during a convocation with mandatory attendance created the appearance of mass spontaneous support for his presidential campaign, but required attendance renders that appearance false. I dare say that someone like Cruz probably would draw a big crowd at someplace like Liberty anyway, given his Christianist appeal and the potential historic significance of the occasion. But it seems clear that some who would have stayed away had to show up to form a more impressive backdrop for an event that was less an airing of unorthodox opinions than it was a political advertisement. This is all grimly impressive. Leave aside your judgment of anything Cruz actually said yesterday; the event was dishonest before he even opened his mouth.